Six from the top 10 students of the graduating PMA Batch 2008 came from Mindanao. Ariel Rallos of Limon Drive in Canelar Triplett, Zamboanga City conferred the highest honor given to graduating cadets by President Arroyo, the main speaker in this year’s ceremony.
Baghawi stands for Bagong Halaw ng Lahi or New Breed of Leaders.
Rallos, a former teacher and physics graduate of the Western Mindanao State University, said all of them did their best to achieve such a feat.
Rallos, who is going to the Philippine Navy, receives the Presidential Saber, PGMA Achievement Award for Excellence, Philippine Navy Sword, JUSMAG Award, Aguinaldo Saber, Academic Group Award, Mathematics Plaque, Natural Sciences Plaque and Department of Tactical Officers Plaque.
Graduating second is Bernard Roderick Joaquin from Aguilar town in Pangasinan, who receive the Vice Presidential Saber and the Philippine Air Force Saber for being the top graduate joining the PAF. Joaquin has also receive two other major awards, the Tactics Group Award for topping all courses offered by the Tactics group and the JUSMAG Award.
Third is Me-ann Sinson from Ligao City in Albay, the only female cadet in the top ten this year. She receive the Secretary of National Defense saber and the Air Force Professional Courses Plaque for topping the Air Force Service core courses.
Fourth placer is Dennis Legaspi of Palid, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, who receive the Philippine Army Saber for being the top graduate joining the Philippine Army.
Number five is another Mindanaoan, Vergel Lacambra from Pagadian City, who will receive the Humanities Plaque, Management Plaque, Social Science Plaque, Army Professional Courses Plaque and Journalism Award.
He is followed by Carlo Catalan of Dumaguete City.
Another Mindanaoan, Francisco Pondoyo Jr. from Ramon Magsaysay, Zamboanga del Sur, came in 7th and will receive the Association of Generals Flag Officers Award. He was followed by Marc Louis Parade from Baliuag, Bulacan in 8th place.
South Cotabato native Dennis Moreno from Banga town placed 9th while Vay Caballero from Lapazan, Cagayan de Oro City followed at 10th spot.
The other awardees are Cadet Freddiemyr Villamayor (Comp & Info Sciences Plaque); Cadet Aldous Christopher DG Tamayo (Leadership Award); Cadet Randolf Ramiro (Navy Prof Courses Plaque); Cadet Jeremy Esilen (Sports & Physical Dev Plaque); and Cadet Elizabeth Rosete (Athletic Saber).
Baghawi class of 2008 is composed of 197 male and 23 female cadets. Most of them, 119 in all, are going to the Philippine Air Force, 51 will be assigned at the Philippine Army and 50 in the Philippine Navy.
Rallos was orphaned while he was still in grade six by his father Felicisimo, who died of leukemia, and by his mother Ofelia in 2005 when he was already at the academy. Both his parents had worked at a chemical factory back home.
He said hard work, perseverance and faith in God did the trick.